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Consumer Reports: Buying the right towels

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Bath towels are something you and your family rely on every day. You want towels to look nice, feel soft, and do a good job of drying you off. Consumer Reports tells how to buy towels that will hold up. (WLS)

Bath towels are something you and your family rely on every day. You want towels to look nice, feel soft, and do a good job of drying you off. Consumer Reports tells how to buy towels that will hold up.

Picking from a huge selection of towels can be daunting. Here is what you need to know.

Thick and heavy towels will dry you off better. Egyptian or Pima cotton is the best quality. Their longer fibers are stronger and less likely to pill. But shop carefully.

"There are a lot of towels out there that are labeled Pima or Egyptian but aren't. If their price is too good to be true, they're probably not the real thing," said Pat Slaven, Textile Engineer, Consumer Reports.

Another option: Look for cotton-rayon blends. They absorb a little bit better, although they won't wear as well.

Be aware: Those towels that are so soft in the store won't stay that way. They're treated with a special finish that will wash out.

"Using liquid fabric softener will make your towels feel soft, but we've found it decreases absorbency significantly," Slaven said.

An occasional dryer sheet is a better option.

But over-drying towels can shrink them. So instead of the timer setting, use the machine's moisture sensor.

If you have a teen at home, colored towels can be ruined by benzoyl peroxide in acne medications, which can leave bleach spots.

Some manufactures claim their towels resist these bleach stains, so Consumer Reports bought several brands. The letter "B" was painted thickly on each towel with benzoyl peroxide gel, then washed.

Both the Real Simple and the Sonoma towel from Kohl's came through the wash just fine. L.L.Bean's showed some bleaching, although when retested with a smaller amount of benzoyl peroxide, they didn't bleach.

Consumer Reports also tested regular white towels, and they all came through the benzoyl peroxide test unscathed. So white towels are a great option for teens.

Consumer Reports suggests when you buy colored towels, buy a matching washcloth and store it away. If your towels fade, the washcloth will be good evidence when you ask for your money back.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2016. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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